New regulator at heart of building safety overhaul

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The Building Safety Bill, published on 5 July 2021, will create lasting generational change and set out a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has outlined the next key step in an extensive overhaul to building safety legislation, giving residents more power to hold builders and developers to account and toughening sanctions against those who threaten their safety.    

The Building Safety Regulator will oversee the new regime and will be responsible for ensuring that any building safety risks in new and existing high rise residential buildings of 18m and above are effectively managed and resolved, taking cost into account.

This will include implementing specific gateway points at design, construction, and completion phases to ensure that safety is considered at each and every stage of a building’s construction, and safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.      

These changes will simplify the existing system to ensure high standards are continuously met, with a ‘golden thread’ of information created, stored, and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle, establishing clear obligations on owners and enabling swift action to be taken by the regulator, wherever necessary.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:    

This Bill will ensure high standards of safety for people’s homes, and in particular for high rise buildings, with a new regulator providing essential oversight at every stage of a building’s lifecycle, from design, construction, completion to occupation.

The new building safety regime will be a proportionate one, ensuring those buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety swiftly, and reassuring the vast majority of residents and leaseholders in those buildings that their homes are safe.

The reforms will tackle bad practice head on, building on Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which highlighted a need for significant cultural and regulatory change.

Under the proposals, the government is more than doubling the amount of time, from six to 15 years, that residents can seek compensation for substandard construction work.

The changes will apply retrospectively. This means that residents of a building completed in 2010 would be able to bring proceedings against the developer until 2025.

These reforms also include new measures which apply to those seeking compensation for shoddy refurbishments which make the home unliveable.

New measures in the Building Safety Bill will:

  • ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building.
  • establish a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks, including taking enforcement action where needed.
  • give residents in these buildings more routes to raise concerns about safety, and mechanisms to ensure their concerns will be heard and taken seriously.   
  • extend rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects.    
  • drive the culture change needed across the industry to enable the design and construction of high-quality, safe homes in the years to come.

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Image credit | iStock
 

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